Making Podcast Woolful Podcast

Episode 18: Nan Bray – Active shepherding, drought, superfine Merino and reflections.

April 14, 2015

I’m very excited to share the eighteenth episode of the Woolful podcast. Today we get to meet an incredibly inspiring sheep farmer and shepherdess from Tasmania, Nan Bray of White Gum Wool.


Sponsor: This episode is sponsored by Yarn, a charming online and local yarn shop based in Eureka, California. Yarn was created by Sunni Schrivner who has a dedication for natural fibers and supporting local yarns. Make sure to visit Yarn in person when on the coast in hum bolt county and online at


Fiber folk: Nan Bray first came on my fiber radar when a listener sent me an email sharing a bit about what Nan was up to and encouraging me to reach out and learn more. I’m so glad I did. Nan’s journey as a scientist to fiber farmer and shepherdess touches on a lot of interesting challenges and her approach to farming wool has evolved into something quite special, both personally and as a business. You can find Nan at




Man on the street: For this week’s “Man on the Street” I asked a handful of fiber enthusiasts to answer the following question, shared by Susan in the Woolful Ravelry group. “Desert island scenario: What knitting book or project or yarn would you bring along and why?” We had a great reply from Nikki (@woolenviolets).

Giveaway: The winner of last week’s giveaway is…Samantha Symon! Congratulations, you’ve won a set of 5 bento bags from Ambatalia.

This giveaway this week is sponsored by White Gum Wool, and we’re giving away two skeins of Nan’s 8-ply Superfine Merino Wool in Flax Lily. To enter, leave a comment on this blog post.




Music by Jónsi.


Transcription coming soon!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply jonatha foli April 14, 2015 at 11:54 am

    those fleeces are so pretty. can’t imagine how lovely the roving and yarn must be.

    • Reply jenny April 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Sounds to me that Nan is having a great life. I enjoyed listening and learned from her approached to raising sheep. Inspiring podcast.

  • Reply Karli Jo April 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Can’t wait to listen to the podcast, perhaps on my run today…

    The color of that yarn is beautiful. I am already thinking of the different projects I would use it for 😉

  • Reply Margaret April 14, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    A fun episode to listen to. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Reply Tonya April 14, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    So excited to listen!

  • Reply Alison Collins April 14, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Always so enjoyable and interesting!

  • Reply Kaarina April 14, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Very interesting interview! I enjoyed listening to it very much!! Thanks for all your hard work! Would love to knit with White Gum Wool yarn sometime!

  • Reply Charlotte April 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Another great podcast. The boyfriend is out this evening so I put it on as soon as I got home from work:)

  • Reply caitlyn April 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    as always, thanks for the inspiration and giveaway.

  • Reply Anne April 14, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Beautiful color yarn! Love the photos!

  • Reply Annie April 14, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Loved this episode! I always feel a little less crazy about my dream of leaving my 8-5 for a fiberful life after listening to all these wonderful stories

  • Reply Denise April 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I am so jealous! My sheep never snuggle with me like that! Beautiful sheep make beautiful wool. Thanks for the chance to win some wool!

  • Reply Judy April 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I just discovered your blog and podcast! So excited to listen and read what you have to share. Thank you.

  • Reply Courtney April 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Wonderful to hear about such a hands on approach. Always expanding my knowledge. Thank you!

  • Reply Heather April 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Can’t wait to listen! And thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

  • Reply Brittany April 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    After each of your episodes where you interview farmers, I always want to run off and start a fiber farm!

  • Reply Mary LeRoy April 14, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I am saving every penny to start my future farm. Thank you so much for these wonderful podcasts, they bring me more inspiration and hope than words can express!

  • Reply Doreen MacL April 14, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    I have fondled some White Gum yarn and fibre in person, it is truely lovely. Thanks for the interesting podcast and the giveaway.

  • Reply Dee April 14, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I really love listening to these folks talk about their lives and their work. Thank you so much for the effort of doing these podcasts.

  • Reply Tobie April 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Always interesting people!

  • Reply Joyce April 14, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful podcast!

  • Reply Marisa April 14, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Great podcast! What an amazing & passionate shepherdess! I admire her dedication & love for her flock. She is very empowering.

  • Reply Katri April 14, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    I love the woolful podcasts and would a chance to work with Nan’s beautiful yarn! Thanks!!

  • Reply Marissa April 14, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Fascinating! Thanks for another great giveaway!

  • Reply Dana (DanaRae19 on Ravelry) April 14, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Lovely podcast! Thanks for the chance to win. 🙂

    • Reply Kim Goodling April 14, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      this podcast has by far been my favorite of all. several times while listening to Nan talk I wanted to jump right into the conversation and ask a few more questions. so much of what she said spoke directly to my heart and interests. When I had Angora goats,we would allow them to graze and browse in different places on our farm with the same idea that the plants and the variety of plants would provide them with the nutrition they need. why has it never occurred to me to do the same for our sheep?I am also intrigued by Nan’s shepherding. I have a young border collie that is just a year old and I am anxious to begin training with him. we are working far less acreage than Nan but the use of our dog will certainly help us to get the sheep to places where they can graze. I have also been eyeing neighbors fields and dream of being able to lead the sheep up the dirt road to graze on vacant pastures.I have spent the last hour reading nans website and look forward to learning more about her way of shepherding and raising sheep.

      • Reply Alison April 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        Ashley, thank you again for all your hard work. Another wonderful, informative, and inspiring podcast. I have only 3 sheep, but I am already rethinking a few things based on Nan’s techniques and knowledge. You live in my preferred community of woolie folk, and I thank you for all the richness and expanse that you have (and will continue to) bring to it.

        • Reply Karen Latuchie April 15, 2015 at 7:35 pm

          Thank you for another inspiring and “smart” podcast. I’m learning so much about sheep and wool and, although I don’t imagine ever owning any sheep, I appreciate learning more and more about the fiber I use in my knitting. My friends are beginning to think of me as a wool geek, which I think is awesome!

          • Lianne April 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm

            I love to know the story behind the yarn. I used this yarn for the first time and it was love at first sight. It is amazingly soft and to know the history makes the yarn extra special.

  • Reply Roz April 14, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Isn’t she amazing, thank you Ashley for this remarkable interview with Nan. I am so totally inspired by her even more so after listening to her on Woolful. Your interviews always get to the intricacies of life on farm and fiber ventures and people in the fiber industry world wide. Many thanks again for bringing such a interesting and well thought out podcast. I can hardly wait for each episode to air.

  • Reply Michelle Kirkland April 15, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Love that colour. I can imagine it with a soft grey and made into a squishy garter scarf or shawl.

  • Reply Lisa Smith April 15, 2015 at 12:50 am

    very interesting and inspiring . She is such an interesting woman!

  • Reply Derek April 15, 2015 at 2:08 am

    Just found about this podcast from Woolcrush and glad I did!

  • Reply Megan April 15, 2015 at 3:53 am

    I have only recently begun listening to Woolful podcast, and I am absolutely loving it! It is so great to learn more about the fiber industry from folks involved in it.

  • Reply Keren Duchan April 15, 2015 at 3:57 am

    Can’t wait to listen to the new podcast episode. The photos of the sheep are absolutely lovely.

  • Reply Jennifer King April 15, 2015 at 4:47 am

    I’m so thrilled that you interviewed Nan! I first saw her “A sheep like Alice” video over a year ago and thought it was spot on. My local sheepherding mentor does things much the same way as Nan with amazing results. I’ve been slowly introducing plants that grow healthier wool in my pastures. It takes some time but is well worth it!

  • Reply Marci April 15, 2015 at 4:48 am

    congrats to Samantha! I really wanted those bento bags!!!! guess I’ll have to order up! as always, looking forward to listening and knitting – keep ’em comin’, Ashley!

  • Reply Maggie B. April 15, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Can’t wait to give this a listen!

  • Reply mathurine April 15, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Thanks so much for your podcasts allowing us to connect with those wonderful folkfibers all over our blue little world. Happy day to you all!

  • Reply Rowena April 15, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Love learning about what other fiber people are doing and about their yarns or fibers. Thanks for the great podcast. Love it always.

  • Reply Emmaline Long April 15, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Loved this conversation!
    As a fellow shepherd, it was great to hear what neat things she is doing with her flocks. Really liked her connection between nutrition and vaccinations/parasites/other health issues. I only have a small flock, but Nan definitely got me thinking about some of my practices. I plan on finding the book she mentioned regarding pasture management to add to my reading list. I wish I had the land to expand my flock and be able to implement some of her close shepherding practices!

  • Reply Tamara H April 15, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I really look forward to and enjoy these podcasts! Thank you!

  • Reply Sandy Blake April 15, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Love your podcast!!!! I learn so much from them. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this.

  • Reply Kathy April 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for all the work and dedication you put into these podcasts, Ashley. This one is as great as all the prior ones. I don’t know how you keep up with it all, but am very grateful to be able to listen to your various podcast episodes.

  • Reply TheSlowCatwalk April 15, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Fingers crossed also this time!!!

  • Reply Julia April 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I always enjoy your podcast and the wonderful fiber people you introduce us to.

  • Reply Judy April 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and would love to try this gorgeous wool.

  • Reply Jennie April 15, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Nan’s story is so inspiring! I would love to be a part of one of her shepharding days.

  • Reply ChristiB April 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    This podcast episode was completely enchanting. I am so inspired by Nan and her honor of her animals. Her description of her life in Tasmania captured my imagination! Ashley, thank you for your wonderful content and the care with which you curate it. Each episode is a gift I look forward to. Blessings.

  • Reply Rain April 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    All of your interviewees inspire me, but honestly…Nan’s story – told in your podcast and in the videos on her website left me on the verge of happy tears. Thank you! I would absolutely love to win some of her gorgeous yarn from sheep lovingly cared for by Nan.

  • Reply Susan April 15, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Another great podcast profiling the range of jobs and experiences that exist within the fibre community. Would love to knit with that lovely yarn!

  • Reply Colleen Davis April 15, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Very excited to listen to this in the studio tomorrow!

  • Reply Erika April 15, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    I am in love with this podcast and in love with the yarn.

  • Reply sally rawlings April 16, 2015 at 5:49 am

    I as so thrilled and excited to hear about Nan in Tasmania and her amasing ethical husbandry practices with her flock.Being also an American now living in Australia I am so proud of Nan and now am determined to meet her some day !! Her Sheep are amasing and she is a generous and extremely respectable Person !

  • Reply Camanoah April 16, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Thank you so much. Each and every time I listen to your podcasts, I come away with new knowledge about this wonderful fiber industry of ours. Nan’s story was very evocative. Before I even looked at the blog post pictures, I had pictures in my head for every story she told. Thank you both.

  • Reply Britney April 16, 2015 at 7:34 am

    This was a nice episode, I really got some serious visuals of being out there with a herd of sheep. Love it.

  • Reply elly April 16, 2015 at 8:12 am

    An hour after, I know so much more about sheep and shepherding. It is so interesting to know about where my wool is coming from. Thank you : )

  • Reply Kate M April 16, 2015 at 10:04 am

    This was one of my favourite interviews so far! Nan’s story was so inspiring to me. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  • Reply Carrie April 16, 2015 at 11:31 am

    loving this podcast…!

  • Reply Erin April 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Probably one of the best episodes you’ve had yet. Nan is fantastic! And I WANT THAT YARN. OMG…..

  • Reply Carla April 16, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I just adore this podcast so peaceful and informative!
    I also would love of course to win this weeks prize!

  • Reply Ida Nielsen April 17, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Oh this makes me dream of becoming a sheperd! So inspiring!

  • Reply Sharon April 17, 2015 at 2:50 am

    I love white gum wool, I have been collecting some of Nans and also some from Indy dyers like Augustbird and Nunnaba. It is amazing to knit with and against your skin. Also knowing it has come from happy well cared for sheep makes a difference

  • Reply Mary April 17, 2015 at 6:04 am

    I loved listening to Nan’s evolution from biologist to sheep farmer. Really admire her for following her dream!

  • Reply Madeleine Fidler April 17, 2015 at 6:26 am

    You did it again! Another amazing episode – thank you so much! I love beautiful yarn with a beautiful story!

  • Reply Astrid April 17, 2015 at 9:16 am

    What a great interview! The connection between nutrition and seems (now, post interview) to be a no brainer, but I hadn’t consciously made. I love the way your show pulls my brain in new directions.

  • Reply Kathy A. April 17, 2015 at 9:29 am

    What a beautiful color!

  • Reply Lindsay April 17, 2015 at 9:40 am

    so loved listening to Nan’s story, and really appreciated the questions you asked her. her strong bond with her flock sounds so sweet and makes her yarn all the more special!

  • Reply Kim April 17, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Another great podcast! I would love to try some of that yarn!

  • Reply Katrina April 17, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot of Donna Haraway for one of my classes. She’s doing a lot of theorizing about cross-species relationships, and I really think that she would get along well with this week’s guest!

  • Reply hannah April 17, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Such a lovely story! I love the look of the yarn!

  • Reply Nicole April 17, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    What an amazing story. I have been loving this podcast and all that I’m learning from such passionate and interesting people. Thank you!!

  • Reply Jacqueline April 17, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Nan’s story is interesting and inspiring. Thank you for another great podcast!

  • Reply Julie Britton April 18, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Super interesting learning about the process of caring for sheep! Thanks love your podcast!

  • Reply Debbie Cagnina April 18, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I am so glad I found this podcast! Every episode I learn something new about wool. i am fascinated! You are connecting me with so many wool full people! Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca April 19, 2015 at 1:27 am

    oops, I just realised I posted a comment for this episode on the wrong post.
    Anyway, thanks for another great episode. I love White Gum Wool and love what Nan is doing with her sheep.

  • Reply elflyn April 19, 2015 at 4:02 am

    Oh my goodness White Gum Wool is amazing <3

  • Reply Elaine April 19, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Really enjoyed this podcast and would love to try this wool. I just started spinning and loving it and will learn to natural dye very soon.

  • Reply Beverly April 19, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Love, love, love the cranberry color. Simply divine, and looks so soft. Wold make a great addition to Spring knitting projects.

  • Reply Sally April 19, 2015 at 7:05 am

    As with all your podcasts I have been captured by the interests of people like Nan Bray. Well done, it is fantastic to learn more about the yarns we use. On my fiber journey I have moved from mass produced yarns to those either dyed or produced in small batches from people who really love what they do. Now to go and try some white gum wool.

  • Reply lynette April 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I loved hearing about how Nan got her start on her farm. Hard work definitely pays off! It makes me appreciate wool so much more.

  • Reply Holly dugan April 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for another inspiring podcast!

  • Reply Laura April 20, 2015 at 12:43 am

    still catching up on all the podcasts, but loving each and every one! keep up the great work!

  • Reply Terri April 20, 2015 at 7:16 am

    So very interesting how she’s managing her flock! She may be onto something regarding the intestinal microbiome of her sheep.

  • Reply Susan April 20, 2015 at 10:40 am

    SO GLAD you had her on your podcast! I have been following her for a very long time and have read the Art and Science of Shepherding and have listened to Fred Provenza on You Tube. MOST excellent.
    Thank you again!!!

  • Reply Anna April 20, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you as always Ashley for another podcast. It’s a highlight of my week 🙂

  • Reply Megan April 20, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    What an inspiring story! I look forward to these podcasts so much! Thank you!!

  • Reply Traci April 20, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I loved Nan’a story, thank you both. Oh and the giveaway too!

  • Reply Hanna April 20, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    This was my favorite episode so far of the podcast, and I’ve listened to all of them! I especially liked Nan’s scientific approach to farming. i am studying for a public health class right now, and I loved hearing her thoughts on sheep nutrition and how that relates to their well being – just like in humans! All your interviews also make me want to become at least a hobby farmer, and escape the concrete in the Bay Area. Thanks!

  • Reply Julie April 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I loved hearing Nan’s story and how she has learnt so much from interacting with the sheep. It makes me want to be a shepherd.

  • Reply Zoe April 21, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Yay! Episode 18!

  • Reply Kristie Statuto April 21, 2015 at 9:13 am

    This made my Tuesday morning a little brighter. Thank you!

  • Reply Reb April 21, 2015 at 9:49 am

    This was fun and easy listening!

  • Reply Dana April 21, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Another lovely podcast, thanks for the chance to win. 🙂

  • Reply Ghazal April 22, 2015 at 9:50 am

    What a wonderful podcast! Very inspiring! I look forward to trying weaving 🙂

  • Reply Lily May 3, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Excited to listen to another podcast! 🙂 Thank you for them!

  • Reply Patricia Blackshear May 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Wonderful podcast as usual!! I love listening and learning.

  • Reply Tamara H May 5, 2015 at 5:09 am

    Thank you for these podcasts. Knowing where the yarn comes from makes it special. This looks like lovely yarn!

  • Reply Kristi / treefroggin May 5, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I love listening every time! thanks for working on this. it is fantastic!

  • Reply Vicki May 6, 2015 at 5:13 am

    I loved listening to the interview while I walked yesterday. I wanted to hear it all, so I ended up going an extra mile. I would love to try out her yarn after hearing her description of how soft and wonderful it is.

  • Reply Katie May 6, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    I had heard about White Gum through another blogger, but this interview was fantastic. I’ll just have to save my pennies for the shipping when I buy a SQ.

    RavID NDAKKatie

  • Reply Teresa Wertz August 10, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Just adore this wool! Hope I win some more for my stash!

  • Leave a Reply